Tough Martinsville is Special Place for DJ MOORESVILLE, N.C., (October 18, 2005) ----- Dale Jarrett and the UPS Racing Team travel to Martinsville Speedway for this weekend's Subway 500 as former winners at the flat, half-mile track. Jarrett led...
Tough Martinsville is Special Place for DJ
MOORESVILLE, N.C., (October 18, 2005) ----- Dale Jarrett and the UPS Racing Team travel to Martinsville Speedway for this weekend's Subway 500 as former winners at the flat, half-mile track. Jarrett led only six laps in the 2001 spring race at Martinsville, but they were the most important laps as they were the last six laps of the race. The win is just one reason why Martinsville is a special place to Jarrett, as the southern Virginia track was the site of his first career NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series start. Jarrett started 24th in the 1984 Sovran 400 and finished 14th. Jarrett remembers the event and one particular instance in the race particularly well.
"Of course I was excited to have that opportunity," Jarrett recalled. "It was a great experience and opportunity. Probably the one thing that I remember the most from that race is it was late in the event and I was a few laps down and had Dale Earnhardt come up behind me. We raced side-by-side for a few laps, but for someone who was making their first start it was pretty cool."
The tough Martinsville Speedway is described as so because of how hard the track is on equipment. Brakes are at a premium during a 500-mile race at the half-mile track. Part failures are a common occurrence during the course of a 500-lap event. The UPS Team hasn't experienced a part failure at Martinsville since a camshaft broke during the track's fall race in 1998. That is also the only time the team hasn't finished a race at Martinsville since being formed in 1996.
Jarrett Discusses Racing at Martinsville Speedway
Do the same things that work in the spring work this time at Martinsville?
"Well the track usually doesn't change too much but it's been a while since we've been to Martinsville. I think where things change is that along the five or so months between races there, some teams are able to learn things at other tracks that they're able to apply this time around at Martinsville. I think that's where we see changes from one race to the next."
What's the most important thing a team needs to have for this weekend?
"It's hard to single out one thing. Obviously, equipment is the first thing. You need to have a good handling car and then you need to have a solid brake system. Now, I say that but it's also on the driver to not abuse that equipment. You have to know when to push your equipment and when to conserve. At the beginning of the race is not the time to be racing hard and getting hard on the brakes. The guys who do that early are usually the ones who end up spending time behind the wall."
Is there still a premium on track position at Martinsville?
"There's always a premium on track position, but it probably is even more emphasis on it at tracks like Martinsville and Bristol. It doesn't take long to get around this track so the lead cars will be lapping the end of the field quick. If you don't get a good starting spot, then you usually are forced to do some things like taking two tires or gas only stops to make up for it on the track. But, Martinsville is a tough track to pass at regardless of how well you're car is handling. Sometimes if the leaders catch the end of the field really quick and end up slowing down a little bit trying to pass the lapped cars that are fighting to stay on the lead lap. If maybe your car isn't handling great you can take advantage of that and catch up a little. But, yeah, track position and pit stops are very important."
Notes of Interest
* Jarrett has one career win at Martinsville, picking up the win in the 2001 Virginia 500 in spring of that season.
* Jarrett made the first start of his NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series career at Martinsville Speedway in 1984.
* Martinsville is also the track where Jarrett picked up his first career top-five finish in NEXTEL Cup Series competition. He finished fifth in the Goody's 500 on September 24, 1989. He led 96 laps after starting 25th.
* Jarrett has posted 36 career starts at Martinsville. He has been running at the end of 32 of those 36 starts.
* The UPS Team spent Wednesday, October 19th testing at Carraway Speedway in preparation for this weekend's race at Martinsville.
Chassis 115 is the car Jarrett will race this weekend at Martinsville. It is an older chassis for the UPS Team. The car was built in 2001 and raced by Ricky Rudd at Martinsville in April of that season. This will be the first time the UPS Team has raced this particular car.